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I haven't really done much with remote sensing imagery. I have census data for an area, and a TIFF raster image of the area.

I'm sure this is possible, is there a simple way to disaggregate the census data to a "per/household" data?

so if let's say the census has a population of 1,000, distribute the population based on the house footprint for example, or lot size

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Do you have an aerial or satellite image? Is the area rural or urban? Do you have any further information available? – underdark Jul 27 '10 at 16:53
Yes to imagery, well whatever is provided by the areas i'm looking into are predominantly rural, but there could be light suburban or urban areas as well – dassouki Jul 27 '10 at 17:15
up vote 12 down vote accepted

The general approach for performing this kind of disaggregation is through dasymetric mapping, which uses ancillary data to inform the spatial distribution of a phenomenon, and is often used for population analyses, such as this one in San Francisco. This paper provides good background on the technique, and if you're working in ArcGIS, scripts have been developed to assist in creating the maps. Unfortunately, there isn't much built-in support for the approach in other packages, though it isn't too difficult to do manually with reclassification.

Paper reference:

  title={Generating surface models of population using dasymetric mapping},
  author={Mennis, J.},
  journal={The Professional Geographer},
  volume={55}, number={1}, pages={31--42},
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Perhaps a DOI for the paper? – om_henners Jul 27 '10 at 17:29
+1 good answer. It looks like this method works for vector or raster. – Kirk Kuykendall Jul 27 '10 at 17:30
@dassouki, om_henners: I've updated the link for the paper to the PDF itself, from the author's site. – scw Jul 27 '10 at 17:40
@scw - Thanks for providing the second link. On a side note, have you ever used this method, and what's your experience with it? – dassouki Jul 27 '10 at 17:43
@dassouki: We used this method to disaggregate fertilizer and pesticide loads from FAO statistics onto croplands based on a land-cover classification raster for the entire globe, as part of a marine threats analysis. – scw Jul 28 '10 at 8:17

Dr Mitchel Langford at the University of Glamorgan has been publishing in this field since at least 1991. Some relatively recent methods are discussed in:

Langford M. (2003) “Refining methods for dasymetric mapping using satellite remote sensing”. In: Mesev, V. (Ed) Remotely Sensed Cities, Taylor & Francis: London. p137-156.

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